The 2017 MLB Ultimate Free-Agent Tracker: utility players

Jeff Passan
MLB columnist
Eduardo Nunez split last season between the Giants and Red Sox. (AP)

We ranked 2017’s top free-agent utility players. Overall ranking in the 2017 free-agent class is in parenthesis.

[More FA rankings: Complete list: Nos. 1-184 | C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SSOF | SP | RP]

1. (29) Eduardo Nunez, UT: Well, he can hit the ball around a little. It’s all the other things – the glove, the mental lapses, the utter impatience at the plate – that make Nunez a little less appealing than a versatile guy who puts the ball in play should be.

2. (60) Howie Kendrick, UT: He can hit. He can play second and both corner-outfield spots. Probably not an everyday player anymore, but Kendrick is ideal so long as it’s on a one-year deal.

3. (89) Danny Valencia, UT: Could join his eighth team in seventh years.

4. (114) Stephen Drew, UT: Has settled very nicely into a utility role, something he could do for at least a few more years if he so desires.

5. (119) Cliff Pennington, UT: Last time he was a free agent, Pennington wound up with a two-year deal despite entering the offseason with a career on-base plus slugging of .657. Today, it’s down to .651, which makes Pennington likely to get at least three years.

6. (134) Darwin Barney, UT: That Darwin Barney, a decent defensive player and legitimately bad hitter, has logged nearly 3,000 career plate appearances and made more than $10 million in his career is proof that no matter how streamlined the decision-making process may be these days, plenty of cracks remain.

7. (140) Jose Reyes, UT: Plays three infield positions, still can run, has some pop in his bat and is 18 months removed from a domestic-violence suspension.

8. (143) Mike Aviles, UT: Signed for $1,000, didn’t debut until after his 27th birthday and is still kicking around. As Francisco Lindor will attest: The perfect guy to teach young middle infielders how to survive in the big leagues.

9. (145) Erick Aybar, UT: It’s getting to be that point where a full-time utility role has come a-callin’ – and it’s a job he may have to win in spring training.

10. (148) Adam Rosales, UT: Doesn’t quite have the glove to guarantee himself employment until his 40s, but has the feel of a stick-around-forever utility type.

11. (153) Michael Martinez, UT: Plays everywhere in the infield and outfield. Runs the bases well enough. Can’t hit much, but that’s not what he’s around for anyway. Does Triple-A time and always winds up in the big leagues – six seasons and counting.

12. (154) Andres Blanco, UT: With the retirement of Carlos Beltran, the final vestiges of the 2004 Royals are Zack Greinke, Bautista and Blanco. Pretty good company.

13. (162) Nick Franklin, UT: Like Chris Taylor, only not very good.

14. (165) Alexi Amarista, UT: Got 87 plate appearances at home for Colorado. Hit .214/.241/.274. That’s so bad it feels impossible.

15. (177) Gordon Beckham, UT: Gordon Beckham is 31 years old. Not sure what else to say because that seems so wrong.

16. (179) Ryan Flaherty, UT: Bravo to a guy who made it to six full years of service with a career .215/.284/.355 line. Seriously, that is incredibly impressive.

17. (181) Emilio Bonifacio, UT: Of the many amusing-to-look-at name pronunciations on Baseball Reference, his – \bone-i-FAW-see-yo\ – might win best of show. Also could take first place for the guy who seems incredibly old but isn’t. (Feels 37? Maybe 38? Reality? Only 32.)

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